This is the time of year when Ontarians start to plan their vegetable gardens and start seeds indoors. Whether you are a seasoned gardener or have never touched a pot of dirt in your life, gardening is possible! What’s more, it’s a great way to encourage children to learn about where their food comes from and grow some for themselves. Sharing this experience with your little ones may even get them more interested in trying some new foods, so give it a shot! After all, as moms, we know it’s a pretty incredible feeling to grow something beautiful.
WHAT TO GROW
The space you have will be a big factor in what you grow. If you have a sunny window, try something small like herbs. If you have a space in the yard you can play around with, go crazy! Here are some suggestions:
Herbs – they grow easily and can be used frequently. Kids can pick leaves and eat them anytime they like. Choose ones you’ll actually use! Basil, oregano, cilantro, mint, chives, etc.
Cherry Tomatoes – another one they can grab off the plant and snack on while they’re outside playing. Make sure they’re old enough to not choke!
Pumpkins – how much fun would it be to grow your own Halloween pumpkin or Thanksgiving pumpkin pie pumpkin? Kids will love to watch how big these can grow! Make sure you have a lot of space, these guys like to spread!
Radishes – if your kid happens to like these odd little root vegetables, then this is a definite for planting. They grow quickly and are harvested early in the season for quick gratification!
Beets – another fun root vegetable to grow because what of the big surprise when you dig it up! Let them guess what the vegetable under the ground is going to look like before you pull it up. And if they’re at the age where bathroom humour reigns, convince them to eat some and see what happens
Carrots – carrots are a classic with kids. It is often one of the rare veggies that kids will eat and they’re fairly easy to grow in the ground or in deep containers. Part of the fun in growing your own is seeing all of the funny shapes they come in when you pull them up – they aren’t all perfect like at the grocery store! For bonus fun, plant rainbow carrots and do a little research as to why we mostly eat orange carrots now.
Bush Beans – you won’t have to worry about planting these beans near something they can grow up and they’ll be easy for little hands to reach in and pick. Fresh beans from the garden are hard for anyone to resist!
HOW TO PLANT
Seed packets will come with instructions as to whether you should start seeds indoors or plant them directly into the garden.
If you are going to start your own seeds, start now! Head to your nearest garden centre with the kids and have someone there instruct you on the best way to get them started with potting soil and starter pots. Another option is to have someone else (a nursery) start your seeds for you and buy seedlings (small plants ready to plant in the ground) later in the spring.
Planting directly into the ground happens anytime from now through summer, depending on the seeds/seedlings. If the instructions say ‘after last frost’ then you have to wait until the end of May to be safe.
Water your seeds regularly and wait for the magic to happen!